Skip Navigation LinksHome > November/December 2010 - Volume 9 - Issue 6 > Early Sport Specialization: Roots, Effectiveness, Risks
Current Sports Medicine Reports:
doi: 10.1249/JSR.0b013e3181fe3166
Special Populations: Section Articles

Early Sport Specialization: Roots, Effectiveness, Risks

Malina, Robert M.

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Abstract

Year-round training in a single sport beginning at a relatively young age is increasingly common among youth. Contributing factors include perceptions of Eastern European sport programs, a parent's desire to give his or her child an edge, labeling youth as talented at an early age, pursuit of scholarships and professional contracts, the sporting goods and services industry, and expertise research. The factors interact with the demands of sport systems. Limiting experiences to a single sport is not the best path to elite status. Risks of early specialization include social isolation, overdependence, burnout, and perhaps risk of overuse injury. Commitment to a single sport at an early age immerses a youngster in a complex world regulated by adults, which is a setting that facilitates manipulation - social, dietary, chemical, and commercial. Youth sport must be kept in perspective. Participants, including talented young athletes, are children and adolescents with the needs of children and adolescents.

© 2010 American College of Sports Medicine

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